Literary Light

A tiny surviving gem of a bookshop

620x300grolierspoetry_1Photo: Susan Ogan

T

he oldest continually operated poetry bookshop in the United States may also be one of the hardest to find, hidden as it is away from the main activity of Harvard Square under a tiny sign. But don’t be deceived. The Grolier Poetry Bookshop is a place with a long reach, called (poetically, of course) by former U.S. poet laureate Donald Hall “the greatest poetry place in the universe. … our temple, agora, cottage, mansion, coliseum, and estate.” Since its founding in 1927, it has been frequented by the likes of Allen Ginsburg, e.e. cummings, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, T.S. Eliot, and others. And at a time when books seem an endangered product, there are 15,000 of them on offer in this tiny space, and regularly scheduled readings, signings, and discussions. Penzias

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The Grolier Poetry Bookshop was named for the Grolier Society of New York, which promoted the art of book-making. It, in turn, was named after the 17th-century French treasurer general and bibliophile Jean Grolier de Servières.

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